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Red Rice

Red Rice is a must-have for any Chamorro Fiesta menu.  Without red rice, it just won’t seem much like a fiesta.

You don’t need to go to a party or fiesta to enjoy this Chamorro staple.  My family loves red rice served with fried chicken, or pan-fried Spam. 🙂

Some people add peas to their red rice, but I like mine without it.

Serve some Chamorro Red Rice at your next gathering for that extra special touch.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Red Rice

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rice (medium or long grain)
  • 1 tablespoon Dashida seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat (or substitute with olive or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 stalks green onions, sliced
  • 1 packet achote powder (see note below)
  • 3 1/2 cups hot water (see note below)

To make 10 cups of red rice (enough for a small BBQ), use the following measurements:

  • 10 cups rice
  • 3 tablespoons Dashida
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 8 stalks green onions, sliced
  • 3 packets achote powder
  • 11 1/2 cups hot water

Note:

You can use achote water made with achote seeds instead of using powdered achote.  Scrub about 1/4 cup of achote seeds in 3 1/2 cups warm water.  Add the achote water (make sure to strain out the seeds and add just the achote water) to the pot where the directions call for adding water and achote powder.

Directions:

1.  Place the rice into your rice cooker pot.  Rinse the rice as required, draining out any excess water.

IMG_31472.  Into the pot, add the Dashida, bacon fat, black pepper, garlic, and achote powder.  If you don’t have any saved bacon fat, substitute with olive or vegetable oil. IMG_31493.  Add the green onions to the pot.   IMG_31504.  Carefully pour the hot water into the pot.  Stir to combine all the ingredients and to dissolve the achote powder and Dashida.  The bacon fat will start to melt; don’t worry if it doesn’t completely melt at this time.

Turn the rice cooker to the “cook” setting.  The only thing left to do is to stir the rice a couple more times.  Wait a couple of minutes then stir to ensure even mixing after the bacon fat melted.  Wait another 5 minutes or so and stir once more to ensure the rice at the bottom of the pot is evenly coated with achote coloring.

After stirring the rice for a second time, leave the rice to cook/steam until done.

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5.  Serve with your favorite meat dish (Chamorro BBQ, fried chicken, or pan-fried Spam goes fantastic with red rice!) and ENJOY! 😀

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How to Roast a Fresh Pumpkin — a Pedro “PoP” Aguon Tutorial

Pedro “PoP” Aguon was a chef in the Navy. PoP passed down to his family his extensive knowledge of cooking, and his daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon, is kind enough to share some of PoP’s recipes and cooking tips with us. That was PoP’s way, sharing with the younger generations in order to keep the knowledge of our Chamorro culture and heritage alive. Rest in peace, PoP…your family and friends miss you terribly.

From Arlene:
“My PoP’s taught me how to roast a fresh pumpkin. It makes the best pies, Buchi Buchi & Turnovers. It makes the home smell like Thanksgiving too. ENJOY. ” ~ @untie R

Freshly roasted pumpkin tastes better than any canned pumpkin you buy in stores. Try roasting pumpkins PoP’s way. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂

Roasted Pumpkins ~ A Pop Aguon Tutorial

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Roast the pumpkins at 350 degrees.  The roasting time varies based on the size of your pumpkins.  Medium pumpkins can take between 45 minutes to one hour.  Check at the 45-minute mark; the pumpkin flesh should be tender when pierced with a fork.  Continue to roast until tender.

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Buñelos Dågu

If you had to list your favorite Christmas food, what would they be?  I’d have too many to list since I have quite a few favorites, but up near the top would be Buñelos Dågu.

A delicious treat, these fried yam donuts, or Buñelos Dågu in Chamorro, are synonymous with Christmas.  This is perhaps because the yams are harvested during the Christmas season.

There are several varieties of yams that you can use to make these donuts.  If you live on Guam or the other Mariana Islands, you can use Dågu, Nika, or Gadu’.  There are also both White and Red varieties of Dågu (called Dågun Å’paka’ or Dågun Agaga’, respectively).

Donuts made with dågu tend to be brownish in color after frying.  Nika donuts are much lighter, a golden brown on the outside and creamy white in color on the inside.  While I like both types, I prefer Nika donuts.

Living in the states, I found a great substitute for the white yams we know on Guam as Nika. It’s called Nahme (pronounced nah-may) Root in some Asian Stores.  I’ve even seen it called Namee or Nami.  If your local Asian market doesn’t have it, check the Hispanic stores, or ask the store manager to order some for you.

This is what Nahme looks like.

Nahme Root

If you’re lucky, you can find some dågu as well.  They are quite large, and look like monstrous hands with lots of “fingers”.  Here’s a photo of dågu.

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Aside from making donuts with the yams, you can cook them as you would potatoes.  Yams are delicious cooked in a chicken stew or kådu with coconut milk.

You don’t have to wait for Christmas to have these delicious donuts.  Visit your local Asian or Hispanic store and buy some yams then give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Buñelos Dågu

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Ingredients:

  • 2 ­pounds yam (Namee, dagu, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup all-­purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Oil for frying

Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a frying pan; the oil should come to about 1 inch in depth.

2.  Peel skin off the yam. Using the fine part of a box or hand­held grater, grate the yam into a mixing bowl.

When grating the yam, your skin might be mildly irritated.  The scientific explanation for this is that most yams contain oxalate crystals which can irritate the skin, mouth and sometimes tongue.  I get around this by wearing plastic gloves when I grate the yams.

3.  Mix in the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

4.  Drop batter by heaping tablespoonful into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning frequently to ensure even browning on all sides.

Modern conveniences make it so easy to drop the batter into the oil.  Back home on Guam, we’d scoop up a handful of batter then squeeze out dollops between our thumb and pointer.   It sounds difficult, but it’s actually quite easy to squeeze it out from between your fingers. It just takes practice. If you can’t get the hang of forming them this way, use a small ice cream scoop (the 1-tablespoon sized scoop). Dip the scoop in water then scoop out some batter; the batter will slide right out and not stick to the scoop.

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5.  Serve with maple syrup or a simple syrup.

To make a simple syrup: in a microwave safe cup or bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup water.  Microwave on high until the sugar is melted.  Stir thoroughly.  Let the syrup cool slightly before using. 

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ENJOY!

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Riyenu ~ Chamorro Stuffing

Chamorro stuffing, or Riyenu, is a delicious side dish usually served during special holiday meals, alongside baked turkey, ham, or roast pig.

My mom taught me how to make this a very long time ago, when I was a very young girl.  In fact, this recipe is one of the few I added to a recipe book that I made when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old.  I remember stacking small pieces of paper and gluing one side to make a spine, then creating a cover out of stiff cardboard and gluing a piece of scrap fabric with blue polka dots on it to make the cover soft and pretty.  Even at that young age, I loved to cook, and I made my very own recipe book, which I still have to this day.

I’ve been asked what makes this a Chamorro stuffing.  Well, I guess it’s the addition of potatoes, pimento and olives, kind of like our Chamorro Potato Salad.

A few optional ingredients that my mom sometimes puts in her Riyenu are finely diced celery and a small jar of sweet pickle relish.  I prefer my stuffing without those two ingredients, so I leave them out.

You don’t need to wait for a holiday to make this yummy stuffing.  Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Riyenu ~ Chamorro Stuffing

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 box Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Turkey
  • 2 small jars diced pimento, drained
  • 1 small can chopped black olives, drained
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Peel and dice the potatoes into small pieces, about 1/4 inch square.

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Place the vegetable oil in a shallow frying pan over medium heat.

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Fry the diced potatoes in batches; cook until the potatoes are a very light golden brown and cooked through (use a fork to test for doneness).

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Drain the cooked potatoes on a paper towel-lined plate.  Set aside.

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Brown the ground beef in a medium sized pot.

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Add the contents of the stuffing mix (dried bread pieces and seasoning), the cooked potatoes and onions to the pot.  Stir to combine.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

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Add the pimentos and olives to the pot.

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Stir to combine.  Continue to cook over medium heat for a minute or so, stirring occasionally.

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Add the raisins.  I actually like lots of raisins in my stuffing so I tend to add more than a cup.

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Pour in the evaporated milk.  You can also use vegetable or chicken stock instead of milk.

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Add the melted butter.  Cook for another minute or two.  Taste, then add salt and pepper if needed (the seasoning packet from the stuffing is already quite salty, so you might not need to add more salt).

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Place the stuffing into an oven-safe baking dish.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Serve and ENJOY!

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This makes a wonderful side dish, served alongside my smoked/grilled turkey and brown sugar glazed ham.

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ENJOY!

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Smoked & Grilled Turkey

Turkey doesn’t have to be served only during Thanksgiving or other holiday meal.  Chamorros love to BBQ, but occasionally, we like to smoke and grill a turkey instead of the traditional BBQ fare of ribs and chicken.

Whether baking, frying, grilling or smoking a turkey, I recommend brining the turkey at least 24 hours prior to cooking.  Brining not only adds flavor to the turkey, but it seals in the juices during the cooking process, yielding an incredibly moist, juicy, tasty turkey.

Smoked & Grilled Turkey

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Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey, about 12-15 pounds
  For the Brine:
  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary-garlic mix (or 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 tablespoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons good quality honey
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered chicken bouillon
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 gallon ice cubes
   Stuffing:
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 apples, cut into wedges
  • 1 whole head of garlic

Directions:

1.  Make the brine.

Place one gallon of water into a large pot.

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Add the sea salt to the pot of water.

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Add the herbs/spices and bay leaves to the pot.

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Add the honey.

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Add the brown sugar.

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Add the chicken seasoning.

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Give it a stir then bring the mixture to a boil.

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Pour the brine into a clean bucket (we bought a PBA-free bucket at Lowe’s).

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Add the sliced limes, orange and onion to the bucket.  My daughter was being funny and called this “turkey punch”. 😉

Let the brine cool completely before adding the turkey.

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Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey.  Rinse well then add the turkey to the cooled brine.  I don’t think there’s a “wrong way” to place the turkey into the bucket, but I like to place it with the legs pointing up so that most of the turkey meat is submerged in the brine.  Of course, you could just add more water to the bucket until the bird is completely drowned. 😉

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Pour in the two gallons of ice cubes — about 2 pitcherfuls.

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Place the lid on the bucket (if yours doesn’t come with a lid, use aluminum foil to cover it) then place the bucket in the refrigerator.  Let the turkey soak in the brine for at least 24 hours.

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2.  Smoke/Grill the turkey.

After 24 hours, remove the turkey from the brine.  Chop up 2 apples and 1 onion, and peel the skin/paper off each clove in an entire head of garlic.

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Stuff the apple, onion and garlic mixture into the cavity of the turkey.

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Place the turkey in the smoker/grill.  Follow the smoking/grilling directions for your smoker.  I have a Traeger smoker/grill that has automatic temperature settings.  Here are the procedures for using a grill (like a Traeger) that has automatic temperature settings.

After turning on the grill, set it to 450 degrees; let the heat build up for about 15 minutes.  Turn the heat back down to the Smoke setting then place the turkey on the grill, smoking it for approximately 9 hours.

NOTE:  If you want to cut down the cooking time, do NOT stuff the turkey until about one hour from being done.  An un-stuffed turkey cooks faster than a cooked one.  If you decide NOT to stuff the turkey, smoke it for 6 hours instead of 9.

This is what the turkey looked like after 3 hours of smoking.

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After 8 hours of smoking, turn the heat up to 275 degrees and grill the turkey for one more hour or until the skin turns a nice dark brown color.

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If you don’t own a smoker/grill, bake the turkey at 325 degrees using the chart below as a basic guide.

TURKEY ROASTING TIMES
Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight (Pounds)Cooking Time (Hours)
6 - 83 - 3 1/2
8 - 123 1/2 - 4 1/2
12 - 164 1/2 - 5 1/2
16 - 205 1/2 - 6
20 - 246 - 6 1/2
Un-Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight (Pounds)Cooking Time (Hours)
6 - 82 1/2 - 3
8 - 123 - 4
12 - 164 - 5
16 - 205 - 5 1/2
20 - 245 1/2 - 6

Serve with your favorite side dishes.  I recommend Chamorro Red Rice, Chamorro Stuffing (Riyenu) and Fina’denne’.
ENJOY!
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